This Day in History (5-Dec-1848) – U.S. President James K. Polk informs the US Congress there are large amounts of gold in California, launching the Gold Rush

The great California gold rush began on January 24, 1848, when James W. Marshall discovered a gold nugget in the American River while constructing a sawmill for John Sutter, a Sacramento agriculturalist. News of Marshall’s discovery caused the large influx of “’49ers,” as the gold prospectors were known. California’s overall population growth was so swift that it was incorporated into the Union as the 31st state in 1850—just two years after the United States had acquired it from Mexico.

One of the migrations stimulated by the discovery of gold was the internal westward movement of Americans from the eastern states who hoped to make fortunes in California. At first, there were only two routes. The first entailed a six-month sea voyage from New York around the tip of South America to San Diego or San Francisco. Rampant seasickness, bug-infested food, boredom, and high expense made this route unattractive for many would-be prospectors. The second route brought travelers over the Oregon-California Trail in covered wagons—over rugged terrain and hostile territory. This journey also averaged six months’ duration. By 1850, the length and difficulty of both routes had inspired the construction of the Panama Railway, the world’s first transcontinental railroad. Built across the isthmus of Panama by private American companies to speed travel to California, the railroad helped to shave months off of the long voyage around South America.

In addition to massive emigration from the eastern US, the California gold rush triggered a global emigration of ambitious fortune-seekers from China, Germany, Chile, Mexico, Ireland, Turkey, and France. The number of Chinese gold-seekers was particularly large. The influx of Chinese and other foreign laborers led to ethnic tensions in California, especially as gold grew scarce. Despite the ethnic tensions it engendered, the Gold Rush forever changed the demographic face of California by making it one of the most ethnically diverse states in the Union by the middle of the 19th century.

Reference:

http://www.mapsofworld.com/on-this-day/december-5-1408-the-golden-horde-marches-into-moscow

http://ocp.hul.harvard.edu/immigration/goldrush.html

This Day in History (17-Jul-1955) – Disneyland Opens

When his daughters were little,Walt Disney would take them to play at the carousel at Griffith Park in Los Angeles every Sunday. While his daughters enjoyed their repeated rides, Disney sat on park benches with the other parents who had nothing to do but watch. It was on these Sunday excursions that Walt Disney began to dream of an activity park that had things for both children and parents to do. Disney hired the Stanford Research Institute to find an appropriate location that consisted of at least 100-acres, was located near Los Angeles, and could be reached by a freeway. The company found for Disney a 160-acre orange orchard in Anaheim, California.

While Walt Disney put up much of his own money to make his dream a reality, he didn’t have enough personal money to complete the project. Many of the financiers could not envision the monetary rewards of a place of dreams. To gain financial support for his project, Disney turned to the new medium of television. Disney made a plan with ABC: ABC would help finance the park if Disney would produce a television show on their channel. The program Walt created was called “Disneyland” and showed previews of the different themed areas in the new, upcoming park.

On July 21, 1954, construction on the park began and completed in a year. On July 17, 1955, Disneyland opened for a few thousand specially invited visitors; the following day, Disneyland officially opened to the public with an entrance fee of $1.  What was true when Walt Disney stated it during the opening ceremonies in 1955 still stands true today: “To all who come to this happy place – welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America… with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world. Thank you.”

Disneyland has a larger cumulative attendance than any other theme park in the world, with over 650 million guests since it opened.

 

Reference:

http://history1900s.about.com/od/1950s/qt/disneyland.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disneyland

This Day in History (19-May-2001) – Apple Inc. Opens its First Retail Store

On Saturday, May 19, 2001, Apple Inc. opened its first retail store in the US, at Tysons Corner in McLean, Virginia. Steve Jobs, the then CEO had hosted a press event earlier that week at the Tysons Corner Center mall announcing the opening of 25 retail stores in 2001. The other retail store that Apple launched on the same day was at Glendale Galleria in Glendale, California. According to Jobs, the retail stores were designed to give Apple customers an amazing experience. He said “The Apple stores offer an amazing new way to buy a computer. Rather than just hear about megahertz and megabytes, customers can now learn and experience the things they can actually do with a computer, like make movies, burn custom music CDs, and publish their digital photos on a personal website.

Upon launch, the Apple retail stores carried every Apple product and over 300 third-party software titles to be bought off-the-rack. The store salespeople were demonstrated Macs powered with applications such as iTunes and iMovie. The newly launched Mac OS X operating system was available for customers to experience firsthand. All the Macs on display were connected to the Internet.

On May 19, over 500 fans lined up at about 4 am EDT to be among the first customers. By the time the store opened at 10 am, they had started to chant “Apple, Apple, Apple”. On the opening day, security guards kept a close watch over the people entering the store since local regulations limited store capacity to 80 people. In the first two days, the Apple retail stores welcomed over 7700 people and recorded the sales of over $599,000 worth of merchandise. On the opening day, Apple customers found the following message in their shopping bags, “This store is our way of personally introducing you to the Apple way of life. At Apple, we are committed to building a community where knowledge can be shared freely.”

In that age of uncertainty, many thought Apple’s dip into retail waters was an act of supreme foolishness. But as Apple is wont, they did it anyway. The choice turned out to be a wise one indeed.

Reference:

http://www.mapsofworld.com/on-this-day/may-19-2001-apple-inc.-opens-its-first-retail-store

http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2001/05/21Apple-Retail-Stores-Welcome-Over-7700-People-in-First-Two-Days.html

http://www.macworld.com/article/1159817/first2applestores.html